It’s January, which is usually the time of year when moviegoers try to catch up on all of the awards season contenders they’ve missed over the past year. Who has time to think about upcoming films when you’re still trying to see “Little Women”?
Nevertheless, there’s plenty to look forward to in 2020, with multiple new films from Ben Affleck, the sequel to “A Quiet Place,” and “Free Guy,” an adventure comedy that turned Boston into a giant video game during filming last summer.
With that in mind, we decided to pull together a short list of some of the most notable movies with local hooks that are coming out this year, starting with three films premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, which begins later this month. Note that movie release dates often move around on the calendar quite a bit prior to hitting theaters, but as of now, all of these films are slated to debut in 2020.
- 1 Sundance
- 2 “Promising Young Woman”
- 3 “The Last Thing He Wanted”
- 4 “Downhill”
- 5 Winter
- 6 “Like a Boss”
- 7 “Dolittle”
- 8 “The Gentlemen”
- 9 “The Call of the Wild”
- 10 “The Way Back”
- 11 “Spenser Confidential”
- 12 “A Quiet Place Part II”
- 13 Spring
- 14 “Fatherhood”
- 15 “Scoob”
- 16 “Fast & Furious 9”
- 17 Summer
- 18 “Top Gun: Maverick”
- 19 “Free Guy”
- 20 “Minions: Rise of Gru”
- 21 “Bob’s Burgers: The Movie”
- 22 “Infinite”
- 23 “Let Him Go”
- 24 Fall
- 25 “The Many Saints of Newark”
- 26 “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
- 27 “Stillwater”
- 28 “Deep Water”
- 29 “Tom and Jerry”
- 30 “The Last Duel”
“Promising Young Woman”
Traumatized by a tragic event in her past, Cassandra Thomas (Carey Mulligan, “Drive”) seeks out vengeance against all men who cross her path in this revenge thriller from Emerald Fennell (“The Crown”). Co-starring Hamilton native Bo Burnham (“Eighth Grade”) and Boston native Jennifer Coolidge (“American Pie”), “Promising Young Woman” debuts at Sundance in January before opening nationwide April 17.
“The Last Thing He Wanted”
Based on Joan Didion’s 1996 novel of the same name, “The Last Thing He Wanted” follows Washington Post reporter Elena McMahon (Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”), who quits her job and decamps to Florida to visit her ailing father, Richard (Willem Dafoe, “Spider-Man”), an aged gunrunner. Elena eventually becomes a pawn in a plot to covertly sell arms to rebels in Central America via the U.S. government. While there’s no official word on which character will be played by Ben Affleck, the most obvious choice from Didion’s novel may be the role of Treat Morrison, a high-level government official who becomes romantically entangled with Hathaway’s character. Also co-starring Toby Jones and Rosie Perez, “The Last Thing He Wanted” debuts at Sundance in January. It’s expected to debut on Netflix later this year.
Inspired by 2014 Swedish indie darling “Force Majeure,” “Downhill” begins with Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Pete (Will Ferrell), and their sons enjoying a ski vacation in the Alps when an avalanche suddenly hits. While the family escapes unscathed, Pete’s actions during the disaster reveal an ugly side of his personality that slowly causes the family to crumble. Written and directed by Jim Rash and Boston native Nat Faxon (“The Descendants”), “Downhill” opens in limited release Feb. 14 following its Sundance debut in January.
“Like a Boss”
Two best friends (Rose Byrne and Tiffany Haddish) start a beauty company together, but their bond is tested when a wealthy company makes a buyout offer. The comedy also features Salma Hayek and Boston natives Ari Graynor and Jennifer Coolidge. It will hit theaters Jan. 10, 2020.
Based largely on the 1922 book “The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle,” Robert Downey Jr. will play eccentric Dr. John Dolittle as he travels across the high seas — with his menagerie in tow — in search of a cure for Queen Victoria’s ailments. With a voice cast that includes Emma Thompson (“Late Night”), Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), and West Newbury native John Cena as an upbeat polar bear named Yoshi, “Dolittle” sails into theaters Jan. 17.
Guy Ritchie’s latest crime comedy focuses on marijuana kingpin Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), whose decision to sell off his London drug empire creates a madcap rush of lowlifes and schemers trying to steal his business. With an ensemble cast of ruffians that includes Hugh Grant (“Notting Hill”), Colin Farrell (“In Bruges”), and Boston native Jeremy Strong (“The Big Short”), “The Gentlemen” wafts into theaters Jan. 24.
“The Call of the Wild”
Based on the Jack London novel of the same name, “The Call of the Wild” follows the adventures of Buck, a dog who is stolen from his California home and ends up in Alaska, where he pairs up with loner John Thornton (Harrison Ford). The cast includes Karen Gillan (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”), and Worcester native Jean Louisa Kelly (“Mr. Holland’s Opus”), “The Call of the Wild” rides into theaters Feb. 21.
“The Way Back”
Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) is a former high school basketball phenom whose life has spiraled due to alcoholism, costing him his marriage and leaving his future looking bleak. When he takes a job coaching his alma mater’s basketball team, he begins to find reason to confront his demons. Directed by Gavin O’Connor, who also worked with Affleck on “The Accountant,” “The Way Back” hits theaters March 6.
Netflix’s upcoming “Spenser Confidential,” directed by Peter Berg, centers on ex-cop Spenser (Mark Wahlberg) and aspiring MMA fighter Hawk (Winston Duke) who unravel a twisted murder conspiracy in Boston’s criminal underworld. The film is an adaptation of the Ace Atkins novel “Wonderland” and is based on the Spenser character in Robert B. Parker’s series of detective novels, the 1980s ABC show “Spenser: For Hire,” and several TV movies. “Spenser Confidential” is scheduled to be released March 6, 2020.
“A Quiet Place Part II”
Following the events of the 2018 film “A Quiet Place,” the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe) must venture away from their carefully guarded home and face the horrors of the outside world. The family soon realizes the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats they face. Though “Part II” is once again written and produced by Newton native John Krasinski (“The Office”), the actor does not have a starring role this time around, with actors Cillian Murphy (“Peaky Blinders”) and Djimon Hounsou (“Blood Diamond”) joining the top-billed cast in his stead. “A Quiet Place Part II” creeps into theaters March 20.
Based on the real life of writer/blogger Matthew Logelin and his book, “Two Kisses for Maddy,” “Fatherhood” centers on Matt (Kevin Hart, “Central Intelligence”), a father determined to give his daughter Maddy the best life possible after his wife passes away shortly after childbirth. Matt often finds himself unprepared for the challenges of fatherhood, and faces an additional complication when he begins to fall in love for the first time since his wife’s passing. While the film is largely set in Boston and Minneapolis — and Hart made a splashy appearance when filming a scene in the Boston Public Garden last fall — the film’s production was primarily based in Montreal. Featuring Alfre Woodard (“12 Years a Slave”), Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”), Paul Reiser (“Mad About You”), and Anthony Carrigan (“Barry”), “Fatherhood” hits theaters April 3.
Enjoy the origin story of Scooby-Doo and how the hungry dog first joined forces with Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Fred. As the Mystery Incorporated gang tried to prevent the ghost dog Cerberus from being unleashed on the world, they discover that Scooby has an “epic destiny greater than anyone imagined,” according to a studio synopsis. What that means is up for interpretation, but one hint is the casting of Mark Wahlberg as the voice of Hanna-Barbera superhero Blue Falcon, which suggests the potential formation of a Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe. “Scoob” sniffs its way into theaters May 15.
“Fast & Furious 9”
Few to no details about the next “Fast & Furious” movie have been revealed yet, but joining the cast this go-around is West Newbury native John Cena (“Bumblebee”). Based on the pattern of just about every movie in the series so far, Cena will play a nemesis of sorts for Dom (Vin Diesel), Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), Shaw (Jason Statham), and the rest of the crew before ultimately joining the good guys by the end of the film — or at the very least by the time “Fast & Furious 10” rolls into theaters in 2021. “Fast & Furious 9” drives into theaters May 22.
“Top Gun: Maverick”
More than 30 years after the original film, Tom Cruise is back as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, still pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and intentionally sabotaging any promotion that would take him out of the sky. Maverick soon finds himself training a generation of new recruits for a dangerous mission, including “Rooster” (Miles Teller, “Whiplash”), the son of Maverick’s late best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw. The cast includes Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), Ed Harris (“The Rock”), Worcester native Jean Louisa Kelly (Uncle Buck”), and returning star Val Kilmer (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), “Top Gun: Maverick” flies into theaters June 26.
Director Shawn Levy turned downtown Boston into a giant video game during the filming of adventure comedy “Free Guy” last summer, staging gun fights, car chases, and bank robberies in the Financial District. “Free Guy” follows a bank teller named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who discovers he’s a background character in an open world video game called “Free City.” Between daily car chases and bank robberies, Guy meets Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”), an expert player who helps Guy to reconsider his life and step out of the background. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Newburyport native Joe Keery (“Stranger Things”), Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”), Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”), Utkarsh Ambudkar (“Blindspotting”), and Sports Illustrated cover model Camille Kostek, “Free Guy” lands in theaters July 3.
“Minions: Rise of Gru”
In the first “Minions,” audiences saw tiny yellow henchmen Kevin, Stuart, and Bob join the employ of 1960s mega-baddie Scarlet Overkill. This time, the minions will get to meet Gru, the supervillain played by Acton native Steve Carell who served as the protagonist for “Despicable Me” and its two sequels. “Rise of Gru” lands in theaters July 3.
“Bob’s Burgers: The Movie”
After nine seasons, Fox’s animated hit series “Bob’s Burgers” is heading to the big screen. Plot details are currently unknown, but one can expect much of the same from the Belcher family, with patriarch Bob (Worcester native H. Jon Benjamin) cooing sweet nothings to his spatula, mother Linda (John Roberts) breaking out into song, daughter Tina (Dan Mintz) concocting elaborate fantasies about butts, son Gene (Lexington native Eugene Mirman) being simultaneously dramatic and unhelpful, and youngest Louise (Kristen Schaal) not-so-secretly running the show. “Bob’s Burgers: The Movie” flips into theaters July 17.
Based on D. Eric Maikranz’s novel “The Reincarnationist Papers,” “Infinite” follows Evan Michaels (Mark Wahlberg), a man tormented by vivid, persistent memories of two previous lives. He soon discovers and joins a secret society called the Cognomina, an ancient group of individuals who perfectly recall their past lives and have used that power to change the world over the course of centuries. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, who previously worked with Wahlberg on 2007 action-thriller “Shooter,” the cast includes Dylan O’Brien (“The Maze Runner”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), Nahant native Jason Mantzoukas (“The Dictator”), and Rupert Friend (“Homeland”). “Infinite” is slated to hit theaters Aug. 7.
“Let Him Go”
A retired sheriff and his wife (Kevin Costner, Diane Lane), grief-stricken over the death of their son, set out on a journey to find their only grandson. Featuring Lesley Manville (“Phantom Thread”), Booboo Stewart (“Twilight: Eclipse”), and Amesbury native Jeffrey Donovan (“Burn Notice”), “Let Him Go” hits theaters Aug. 21.
“The Many Saints of Newark”
More than 20 years after its debut on HBO, “The Sopranos” creator David Chase is headed back to New Jersey for “The Many Saints of Newark,” a prequel to the Emmy-winning series that told the story of mob boss Tony Soprano (the late James Gandolfini). Gandolfini’s real-life son Michael Gandolfini will play young Tony Soprano in the film, while Boston native Alessandro Nivola (“Face/Off”) will play Dickie Moltisanti, a member of the Soprano crew from the 1960s and ’70s whose son Christopher (Michael Imperioli) was a prominent character in the series. The cast also features Jon Bernthal (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Vera Farmiga (“The Departed”), and Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas”). It hits theaters Sept. 25.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing,”), “The Trial of the Chicago 7” tells the true story of a group of Vietnam War protesters outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention who were arrested and tried for conspiracy after violating a police curfew. Among the actors playing the protesters on trial in the film include Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Inception”), and Boston native Jeremy Strong (“The Big Short”). “The Trial of the Chicago 7” heads to theaters Oct. 2.
Matt Damon teamed up with “Spotlight” director Tom McCarthy for “Stillwater,” which centers around a film about an oil-rig worker from Oklahoma (Damon) who flies to France to meet his estranged daughter, who is stuck in prison for a murder she denies committing. After deciding to do everything in his power to free his daughter, Damon’s character meets a woman and her young daughter in Marseille and “embarks on a personal journey of discovery and a larger sense of belonging in the world,” according to a studio synopsis. “Stillwater” trickles into theaters Nov. 6.
In an erotic thriller directed by Adrian Lyne (“Fatal Attraction,” “Indecent Proposal”), Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas (“Knives Out”) play Vic and Melinda Van Allen, a couple stuck in a loveless and faithless marriage. When Melinda’s lovers begin to turn up dead, Vic becomes the prime suspect. Based on a novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith (“Strangers on a Train,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley”), “Deep Water” flows into theaters Nov. 13.
“Tom and Jerry”
“Tom and Jerry” is a hybrid live-action/animated film that tells the tale of how the longtime cat-and-mouse rivalry of the Hanna-Barbera characters came to be. After the owners of his large New England country home pass away, Jerry, the mouse, tries to scare off the new homeowners after they move in. In turn, the family adopts a stray cat (Tom), and hijinks ensue. Amidst the parade of slapstick, the duo team up to protect their family from an outside threat. With an ensemble cast including Chloë Grace Moretz (“Carrie”), Colin Jost (“Saturday Night Live,”), and Marblehead native Rob Delaney (“Catastrophe”), “Tom and Jerry” crawls into theaters Dec. 23.
“The Last Duel”
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are joining forces to write a movie for the first time since “Good Will Hunting.” “The Last Duel,” based on a 2004 novel by Eric Jager inspired by true events, is about a 14th century French knight named Jean de Carrouges and a squire named Jacques Le Gris who are close friends. When de Carrouges returns from war, his wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”), says that Le Gris raped her, but no one believes her aside from her husband. After de Carrouges appeals directly to the king, he and Le Gris are ordered to duel to the death in a trial by combat to resolve the issue. Along with Affleck and Damon, “The Last Duel” will be written by Nicole Holofcener (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) and directed by Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Blade Runner,” “Gladiator”). Also starring Adam Driver (Kylo Ren in the “Star Wars” franchise), “The Last Duel” is slated for a limited release on Christmas Day before opening nationwide on Jan. 8, 2021.